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The MAAP Ascend Pro Rain Jacket is light, beautifully made, very well shaped and an effective barrier against wind and rain. It can get pretty hot and sweaty throughout most of its recommended temperature range, though, and it lacks pockets for carrying layers you might otherwise take off.
I wanted to like this jacket more than I did by the end of the test. It's extremely well made, with accurate and well-bonded taped seams throughout, tidy waterproof zips and substantial zip garages keeping your neck comfortable and your chest pocket dry. That's particularly welcome on the chest pocket, as it's a good size for carrying today's tectonic plate-sized phones.
The cut, too, is very good, and while I found it slightly restrictive at the shoulders when walking around, it's perfect once you're riding – whether that's pedalling upright on the tops or crouched in the drops. There's no loose fabric to flap and no pulling from the inflexible material.
The sizing is similarly well judged, although if (like me) you're bang on the upper limit of a size, you may want to consider going up to allow more room for layers. I can fit a thin base and a winter jersey beneath without causing actual problems, though it feels right on the cusp of getting tight around the tops of my arms (not me in the pics).
It feels completely windproof, while the waterproofing is realistically as good as it gets. The Sympatex fabric has a 45K rating, which means it won't leak even under a column of water 45,000mm tall... yes, that's 45 metres.
It's not that MAAP expects you to visit the bottom of the sea in this – the point is it can withstand the pressure found at 45 metres, which is around 65psi, without leaking. You'd have to be going some on your road bike for water to hit you that hard.
The breathability, meanwhile, is rated as 0.4 on the RET (Resistance of Evaporation of a Textile) scale. On this scale, zero is perfect breathability, while 30 or more is essentially not breathable at all. So 0.4 is pretty impressive.
Get away from the maths and go for a ride and the results are not so impressive. It's just not that breathable, slowly building heat during climbs and taking ages to lose it again afterwards. MAAP rates this jacket for temperatures between 8-15°C, but at anything over 10° – with a thin base and winter jersey beneath – I ended rides with my arms, chest and back soaked in sweat. It's just breathable enough that I regularly underestimated how wet I'd actually got, but nowhere near enough to stop it happening.
On these occasions I wanted to remove my jersey and replace it with the MAAP, but as the jacket lacks any rear pockets I had no way of carrying it. And by the time the air reached 13-14°C, I simply found it too hot to be worthwhile, choosing on one occasion to take it off and deal with the rain in my (non-waterproof) jersey instead.
With its three-layer STX membrane and 269g weight, the Ascend Pro is fairly bulky to carry, though it stuffs most of the way into most centre pockets I tried. And the fabric is noisy, if that bothers you, swishing as you walk (though it's a non-issue while riding) and spattering loudly in the rain.
This is a beautifully made and expensive jacket, so to make sure I wasn't blaming the jacket when my other layers could be the cause, I used it on a night ride that started at 4°C and ended at just 2°C – way below the recommended temps. I also wore a thinner jersey than any time previously over my baselayer. I still got too hot.
By the end of a 15-minute climb I was sweaty, and I stayed too hot at least 10 minutes into a long, gentle 30mph descent with a sub-zero windchill that gave me an ice cream headache. After an hour and a half of being alternately too cold and too hot, at way below its supposed operating window, my back and chest were still sweaty.
On the upside, the windproofing is extremely impressive, leaving my whole torso unaffected by sudden plunges into cold, silvery fog banks that sent the rest of me almost instantly numb.
As lovely as the build, cut and statistics are, the MAAP Ascend Pro is very hard to use. It's too bulky to take as a packable jacket, too warm if you were dressed right before putting it on, lacks rear pockets for stowing layers you might take off, and is too sweaty to wear comfortably over entire rides.
At £290, it sits at the upper end of the spectrum with some seriously premium jackets, and faces stiff competition from far cheaper options. The Bioracer Kaaiman Jacket is a fair bit heavier at 403g and also lacks rear pockets, for instance, but is £178.
The Showers Pass Elite 2.1 Jacket is also 403g, but it has a usefully large waterproof rear pocket, costs £91 less at £199, and scored 10/10.
If weight is a big issue, you could also look at the 240g Pearl Izumi PRO AmFIB softshell jacket which tester Simon found very breathable and so water resistant it 'could sound the death knell for the traditional rain shell'. It's also £199.
To get the best of the Ascend Pro, you really need to wear it for entire rides and get just the right level of insulation underneath from the off – but that's not actually very easy, and the lack of rear pockets makes carrying emergency layers tricky.
Overall, it's a high-quality creation with a great cut and fit, but thanks to the lack of pockets and limited breathability, it's not nearly as versatile as some competition at much lower prices.
Extremely well made with impressive waterproofing, but not very breathable and tricky to get the best from
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road.cc test report
Make and model: MAAP Ascend Pro Rain Jacket
Size tested: Medium
Tell us what the jacket is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
MAAP says: "The Ascend Rain Jacket provides the ultimate in rain and wind protection, delivering performance and dependability when you know you'll be battling severe conditions. Constructed from Sympatex ® fabric featuring a 3 layer laminated membrane, it performs to an exceptional 45K waterproof rating while also eliminating wind chill with 100% windproof protection."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the jacket?
Sympatex Fabric with 3 layer STX membrane
45k Waterproof rating
0.4 RET Breathability rating
Thermo taped seams
YKK Aquaguard 2-way waterproof zip
Reflective logo transfers
Secured waterproof chest pocket
Drop back elasticised hem with silicone gripper
Articulated sleeves for unrestricted movement
Very neatly put together.
Very wind and waterproof, but not particularly breatheable.
Fantastic build creates no worries.
Rated about as high as it gets for active use.
Gets very sweaty, especially at the higher end of its temp range, but somehow avoids the full boil-in-the-bag feeling.
Well shaped and unrestrictive on the bike.
It's spot on, though if you're at the upper limit it doesn't leave much room for layers.
Pretty light for what it is.
Get very sweaty on mild days, but only actively uncomfortable on the mildest.
Very expensive, and not that versatile.
How easy is the jacket to care for? How did it respond to being washed?
No need to wash this – it's not picked up any smells despite some sweaty rides, and it dries quickly after rain.
Tell us how the jacket performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Keeps rain and wind out very well, but it's a bit much on mild wet days, and the lack of pockets is awkward.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the jacket
Considered cut, build quality, protection levels.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the jacket
A bit sweaty on mild days, no rear pockets.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Did you enjoy using the jacket? Sometimes
Would you consider buying the jacket? No
Would you recommend the jacket to a friend? Maybe
Use this box to explain your overall score
It's beautifully made, neatly cut and effective against wind and rain. It gets very sweaty in its recommended temperature range, though, and it lacks pockets to carry other layers you could take off. And then there's the price.
Overall rating: 6/10
About the tester
I usually ride: Vitus Zenium SL VR Disc My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: general fitness riding, mtb,